This year, RESOLVE's theme for National Infertility Awareness Week is "You are not alone."
I participated in this awareness week two years ago, but when I saw the theme for this
year, I knew I had something to say.
I started my infertility journey being
angry, scared and utterly alone. Aside from my mom and my husband, everyone
else thought we were just too busy with college programs and wanting to buy a house and start thinking about starting a family. When I tentatively started letting people in,
some were supportive, some were quick to dole out the advice and some were too
uncomfortable to even bring it up.
It wasn't until we went to our first
appointment at the fertility clinic, where things started to get more real,
that I made one of the biggest decisions of my life: deciding to put our story
up on social media. My heart started pounding as soon as I posted it. What
would people think about such a personal entry? What if they tell us to just
relax and it would happen when it was time? Even worse, what if no one said
anything at all?
It was after that post, after receiving
more comments and words of support than I ever imagined I would receive, that I
decided to take it one step further: I started a blog. A very public blog. Some
may have thought I was crazy, to put it all out there: the inseminations, the
timed intercourse, the entries of negative pregnancy tests that most would have
only written to themselves in a carefully hidden diary. I took the most
intimate moments of creating a baby with my husband and I put it out there for
the world to read.
It was, without a doubt, the best decision
I could have made.
By reaching out, by putting my infertility
out there, I found other bloggers who were going through the same things. I
remember reading posts, my eyes wide, thinking to myself, I could have written
this very same post. Those same bloggers would in turn read my own entries,
commenting that they would have felt the same way, done the same thing.
It's what I want to tell anyone who is experiencing infertility: You, friend, are not alone.
Three years, three IUIs, three IVFs and two donor egg cycles later, infertility blogging has become a part of me,
no different than my own arms or legs. I'm friends on Facebook with the same
bloggers I "met" online three years ago. I have an overflowing shoebox of all the
gifts and cards I have received from bloggers over the years. Putting my blog
out there for everyone has blessed me with friends I've made in real life, and
has put me in contact with old acquaintances that have come forward and shared
their own stories with me.
The theme "You are not alone" isn't just
something I tell myself anymore. It's what I want to tell anyone who is
experiencing infertility: You, friend, are not alone.
That pregnancy test that was negative this
morning? I've had those too.
That third IVF that failed? I've been
The baby you lost after years of trying to
get pregnant and finally succeeding? Oh, sweet friend, I'm crying right along
I've walked in your shoes. I've nodded
along as you try to explain what it's like to be the only one of your friends
still without a child. I understand you better than most of the people in your
life. If you are reading this, and you haven't told a soul about your
treatments, your babies you've lost, please know, you are not alone.
I encourage you to find some sort of connection to others going through the same thing. It can truly mean the difference between defeat and survival.
Not everyone can share their story to the
world. For some, there has been too much judgment; for others, there is shame
or awkwardness. Some people are private, and that's OK. I encourage you to find
some sort of connection to others going through the same thing. It can truly
mean the difference between defeat and survival. Unless you are comfortable
with those in your life knowing, create a blog, lock it down with all the
privacy settings you want and connect with other bloggers. Read other blogs.
Join an online support group. Or, find a local in-person infertility support
group. RESOLVE has them. Churches may have them. Connect with those you know in
real life going through infertility. One in 8 couples are going through the same
thing. Chances are, you know one of them.
I know myself and how excited I get when I
learn someone I know has gone through treatments. I will go right to people,
regardless of how well I know them and I will share my story. And every single
time I have done that, I see the relief in their faces. That look of "You
too?" My closest friends have been discovered in the last three years all
because one of us stepped forward and put ourselves out there by saying, "Hey,
I'm going through this too. I get it."
Infertility steals so much from us: our free
time, our money, our ability to plan more than a few days ahead. It's stolen
family members who just can't support us. It's stolen friendships, faiths, a
normal sex life, our bodies.
Don't let infertility steal this too. Don't
let infertility leave you feeling isolated. You may inevitably go broke, you
may be hurt by family and friends who don't understand, you may question your
faith, feel like you can't have sex without permission from your doctor, and be
bruised by endless needles.